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28.11.2007 Health

Ghanaians asked to support people with HIV/AIDS


A two-day workshop on HIV/AIDS opened in Accra with a call on Ghanaians to show love, care and support to affected people as a way of reducing the rate of infections and stigmatisation.

The workshop, organised by the World Association of Christian Communication, Africa Region was to sensitise journalists on emerging trends in the pandemic and the need to repackage reportage on HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Bernard Dornoo, Technical Assistant at National AIDS and STI Control Programme of the Ministry of Health said in 2007, WHO recorded 33.2 million people as living with the infection with Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 22.5 million.

He said 2.5 million new infections were also recorded while sub-Saharan Africa took the greater chunk of 1.7 million with children under 15 years accounting for 420,000.

Dr. Dornoo noted that 2.1 million deaths were recorded worldwide. Sub-Saharan Africa had a total death toll of 1.6 million and added that the figures called for greater care and support to the infected persons to avoid the spread of the pandemic.

He said the national prevalence rate now stood at 2.22 percent, which was a burden to the country socio-economically adding, "The most infected is the productive age who are the driving force of the nation's development".

Mr James Ayittey of the Legal and Ethics Office at the Ghana AIDS Commission said the greatest challenge was how to sustain development in Africa with the current statistics where over 74,060 of the country's population lived on anti-retroviral drugs.

He said there was the need to identify the group that might be the drivers of the epidemic and increase awareness campaign in such cycles to mitigate the spread of the pandemic.

Mr Ayittey called for a revival of the guidance and counselling systems in schools and the need for social workers to move into schools to monitor and re-orient the thinking of students adding, "This will go a long way to enhance behavioural change".

Rev. Achowah Umenei, President of WACC, African Region called on the media to be mindful of the language when reporting on HIV/AIDS so as not to portray the infection as deadly.

He said HIV/AIDS was preventable and in cases that had occurred, it could be managed through proper care and support to prolong lives.